Due to the great extent of the Ottoman Empire reaching from Europe to Africa and Middle East until a century ago, the traditional cuisine today still carries a touch of both the western and eastern cuisines. Most of the traditional food can be classified as Mediterranean and some as Middle Eastern. The Turkish cuisine today is considered to be one of the diverse cuisines in the world of culinary.
If you are staying in a hotel that is serving traditional Turkish breakfast, you can expect to be served feta cheese, sliced tomatoes, green and black olives, sour cherry and strawberry jam, scrambled eggs, meat salami, soujuk (a kind of pepperoni), fresh fruits, honey and yogurt. Besides these you will be served with many types of white bread and
croissant type pastries. Turks accept the breakfast to the king of meals and they choose to treat their guests like champs. You will leave your hotel ready to take a long walk with enough energy only from the breakfast you just had.
Other Traditional Food:
Kebabs are very popular throughout the country although there are various ways it can be served. Yogurt kebab is very popular since Turks usually tend to mix any kind of food with yogurt, some examples include rice or pasta. "Iskender Kebab" which originated around Bursa also includes yogurt but it is mostly made up of thinly sliced gyro served over cubicles of pide (white bread) topped with tomato sauce and has the yogurt served on the side of the plate. "Manti" is another Turkish dish that is being served with yogurt; it is more a kind of tortellini filled with meat. "Doner" is the famous 'gyro' which is usually lamp meat cut into very thin slices... The infamous shish kebab would be the cubicles of meat and other vegetables on a skewer and again the favorite choice of meat of locals happens to be "lamb meat". Chicken is another but a healthier option that can be served the same way as these meat kebabs.
Since the country is covered by water on three sides, seafood is a major part of the traditional cuisine. Most popular seafood include shrimp, calamari or fishes such as Lufer (bluefish), palamut (bonito), levrek (seabass), kalkan (turbot), kefal (grey mullet) or hamsi which is the favorite from the Black Sea region. In Istanbul seaside. it is possible can run into street vendors that sell grilled fish in white bread just like a sandwich. All traditional dishes can be expected to be served with spices such as garlic, cumin, crushed red peppers, oregano or mint. Salad dressings are usually a combination of fresh squeezed lemon juice and vegetable oil.
Tea and coffee are widely consumed, especially after and between meals. Turkish coffee is muddy on the bottom and is very strong. It is served in traditional cups which are shorter and smaller than usual mugs and they all have little handles. Some popular deserts include baklava which is a pastry that has either nuts or pistachio mixed in it. Turkish Delight (lokums) also are usually made up of rose water and are covered with sugar. They usually include crushed nuts in them.
Food throughout the country is usually prepared with the utmost care and is very clean. Most of the traditional food is prepared with more attention given to taste rather than nutrition and some dieticians may not classify them as healthy considering today's diet standards since most of them contain a lot of fats or carbs.
Some samples of Mezes (tapas):
Traditional mezes include but are not limited to:
Humus: mashed chickpeas and tahini spread. A traditional Middle Eastern tapas.
Eggplant Salad: Grilled eggplant puree seasoned with garlic lemon and olive oil
Cacik: thick yogurt and cucumber seasoned with garlic and fresh dill Yaprak
Sarma: hand rolled grape leaves stuffed with pine nuts, rice and herbs
Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant): Baby eggplant halves stuffed with fresh tomatoes, parsley and spices
Soslu Patlican (Eggplants with sauce): cubes of eggplant baked with olive oil and garnish with tomatoes and peppers Babaganush: Smoked eggplant puree, olive oil, lemon juice and some garlic.
Stuffed Grape Leaves: Grape leaves stuffed with rice, topped with olive oil and sometimes meat.
Lebne: Thick homemade yogurt with walnut garlic and dill.
Tarama: Red caviar spread, blended with olive oil and lemon juice
Raki is the Turkish neighbor of Greek Ouzo which is made up of aniseed and various grapes. It is a transparent drink that turns into white when mixed with water or ice. However, the locals prefer to drink it mixed with just a little of water and ice in a thin and tall glass followed by a second similar glass filled only with water. Alcoholic drinks are widely available although Turkey is a country where the majority of the population is Muslim and the religion prohibits consumption of alcoholic beverages. However, the country is secular and the consumption is in high volumes. It is not considered a wrongdoing for those who choose to drink. Raki is the most popular drink that accompanies seafood; just like what white wine is to seafood or red wine is to red meat in the western countries. The most popular local bear is Efes which is very similar to the traditional American bears and other imported bears such as Budweiser or Corona are widely available.